Despite extensive neuroimaging research of primary sensory cortices involved in auditory and visual functions, subcortical structures within these domains, such as the inferior and superior colliculi, the medial and lateral geniculate nuclei and the superior olivary complex, are currently understudied with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in living humans. This is because a precise localization of these nuclei is hampered by the limited contrast and sensitivity of conventional neuroimaging methods for deep brain nuclei. In this work, we used 7 Tesla multi-modal (T2-weighted and diffusion fractional anisotropy) 1.1 mm isotropic resolution MRI to achieve high sensitivity and contrast for single-subject brainstem and thalamic nuclei delineation. After precise coregistration to stereotactic space, we generated an in vivo human probabilistic atlas of auditory (medial geniculate nucleus, inferior colliculus, and superior olivary complex) and visual (lateral geniculate nucleus and superior colliculus) subcortical nuclei. We foresee the use of this atlas as a tool to precisely identify the location and shape of auditory/visual deep nuclei in research as well as clinical human studies.
Keywords: in vivo neuroimaging-based human atlas; inferior/superior colliculi; medial/lateral geniculate nuclei; multi-contrast 7 Tesla MRI; superior olivary complex; visual/oculo-motor and auditory/auditory-motor functions.